Initial D, First Stage Part 2 – DVD Review

Review by: Eduardo Zacarias

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $29.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Genre: Drama/Sports
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

This is how legends are born.

Having followed the Initial D series for a long time now, I’m certainly grateful to FUNimation for rescuing the series and releasing every series including the first one that actually turned out even more exciting and fun than the seasons after it. Do you want proof? Just pick up Part 2 of the First Stage of Initial D and you will see exactly what I mean. Oh yeah, it’s just that good.

In the first part of the first season we are introduced to Takumi Fujiwara … a High School student who suddenly becomes famous around the Akina area and thus earning the nickname “the Ghost of Akina.” Since then, Takumi has taken on challengers from various racing groups. One of them makes his presence known by bumping Takumi’s friend, Itsuki, nearly off the road in his Eight-Five. Before that, however, the Night Kids’ racer named Shingo issued Takumi a Gum Tape Deathmatch race.

After seeing Itsuki in his hospital, though, Takumi decides to accept the challenge despite the fact that he still considers himself new to the racing scene. Still, it’s clear that it is not in him to turn down a challenge and on the day of the race he finds himself in one of the most dangerous races of his life. With his hand taped to the wheel, it becomes difficult to turn the wheel during sharp turns and – to add to the difficulty – his opponent plays dirty.

Oh but Takumi proves himself once again and thus continuing his winning streak as well as increasing his fame. Word quickly spreads that Takumi not only beat the Night Kids’ best drivers but survived a Gum Tape Deathmatch with only a few bumps and scrapes on his Eight-Six.

Meanwhile, Takumi’s other friend, Iketani, meets a cute girl named Mako who is struggling with her car’s engine. He lends a hand and gets her number as a result but being an insecure and awkward young man, Iketani just doesn’t know how to handle something as simple as a date. Then the girl drops a bomb on him. You see, she’s a street racer who – along with her partner – is well known outside of Akina as one of the best female racers and she wants her last race to be against Takumi.

Never mind that that poor guy feels used, Iketani is the type of guy who still cares and talks his friend into racing the girl of his dreams and would you believe that Takumi accepts. As it turns out, however, Mako and her partner sitting in the passenger seat, are formidable opponents. In fact, they are his best opponents who really push his talents to the limit. It became clear in Part 1 that Takumi could do wonders with the Eight-Six despite its limitations.

Like the first part of the first season, there is plenty of drama and comedy outside the racing action and it comes in the form of the relationships between Iketani and Mako as well as Takumi and Natsuki. In an interesting turn of events, Takumi finally makes a confession to Natsuki and her response is actually a positive one. As for Iketani, just watching the way he handles his relationship with Mako is quite painful. It’s also one of the many highlights of Part 2.

Then again, the more dramatic part comes in the form of Ryosuke Takahashi who finally wants to test Takumi’s skills himself. Having watching him in action, Ryosuke puts his reputation on the line by issuing the challenge but it is clear that of all of Takumi’s opponents so far, Ryosuke is a true gentleman. Before his race with Ryosuke, however, he is challenged by another racer in the Takahashi brother’s team. This race seals the deal between Takumi and Ryosuke and the main event is absolutely breathtaking and edge-of-your-seat racing action.

As I said, Part 2 of the First Stage of Initial D is one of the more exciting episodes of season one and a true classic for loyal fans of the series. Not only are there a number of intense and unforgettable races in Part 2 but the drama outside the streets adds to the overall enjoyment of one of the best moments of this series. Initial D fans, this is the one you will not forget anytime soon.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A
Upset over what happened to his friend, Takumi decides to accept the duct tape death match race from an opponent who is accustomed to using dirty tactics. On the heels of his victory, Takumi fame continues to grow as he accepts more difficult challenges until he gets the ultimate challenge from a Ryosuke Takahashi himself.

VIDEO QUALITY: B-
This being the first season of this series, the CG cars look dated but still good enough to tell what kind of cars are racing. The characters are still true to the manga, which is a good thing for fans of the manga but you won’t care thanks to the cool racing action on display.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting has always been great for this series for both the Japanese language track or the English dub and it remains so for Part 2. While the acting is one of the highlights of the sound, the real audio treat comes in the form of the amazing soundtrack and the opening and closing theme songs.

EXTRAS: D
Besides the textless opening and closing theme songs and a collection of trailers, there’s no real extras to be found here. Once again, I wish they includes the music videos for the first closing theme song from M.O.V.E.

OVERALL: A
If you thought Part 1 of the First Stage of Initial D was exciting, Part 2 blows it away with an even more thrilling second half that pushes Takumi’s driving skills to the limit. Simply put: the First Stage has everything you can ask for in a racing series and Part 2 will remain as one of the more exhilarating moments for this series and one Initial D fans should not miss.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

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